My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Reading and reviewing humorous books for children is always difficult. Reading and reviewing any humorous book is always different because humour is so intensely personal, and it’s always tempting to conflate your viewpoint with that of the intended audience. I therefore have to read the story as a whole and treat the humour as a, sort of, an added extra, whilst remembering that the viewpoint of the average nine year old is substantially different than mine (seriously, it is, I thought about tupperware the other day. Tupperware!)
So, with that slight caveat in place, we come to The Case of the Exploding Loo.
It’s a smart, vivid, detective-y story where Noelle (“Know All”) Hawkins sets out to find out what happened to her dad who has disappeared in the titular toilet. Aided and abetted by a cast of characters including her sister Holly, and Porter Lewis (portaloo spotter extraordinaire), she works her way through the case.
I have a lot of time for this book. It is thick with colour and character, and I really enjoyed that Noelle is smart and brave and very much a hero. It’s not often that we see characters take pride and strength in their brains, and I liked that Noelle did. I liked her sense of identity and her strength (even when she didn’t quite realise that she had it).
The detective element of the story is handled well, and I particularly liked how Hamilton had “clue recaps” built into the story. There was a point when I was worried that the clues would become too many to follow (they occur at regular highlighted intervals in the text) but the introduction of these little recaps sorted that out very nicely, without appearing too ‘intervention-y’. (And yes, I’m aware that last word is poor and rubbish but basically what I’m trying to say is that Hamilton keeps you on track without making you reread the previous fifty pages in order to remember the what, the where and the who).
So, to sum: The Case of The Exploding Loo is vividly characterful and bright, and also includes a rather nice little shift at the end. Hamilton’s worth keeping an eye on.
(PS – She’s also very funny).